Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Will LGBT Youth Be Erased From Crime Victims' Survey?

LGBT Youth

The Trump administration is trying to do more LGBT erasure.

The Department of Justice wants to cease asking 16- and 17-year-olds to voluntarily and confidentially disclose their sexual orientation and gender identity on the National Crime Victimization Survey, DOJ officials announced this week.

Since July 2016, the survey has asked all respondents aged 16 and older about their sexual orientation and gender identity, plus other characteristics such as race and ethnicity, notes the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law. The DOJ seeks to raise that to 18 “due to concerns about the potential sensitivity of these questions for adolescents,” according to the proposed rule released by the department.

“While we appreciate the potential sensitivity of these questions for some people, no one is forced to answer them,” said Adam P. Romero, the Williams Institute’s director of federal policy and a scholar of law at UCLA School of Law, in a press release. Such disclosure, he said, “provides crucial data on criminal victimization of LGBT people, who are subject to high rates of hate crimes and other violence.”

“The Bureau of Justice Statistics at the Department of Justice has been a leader in advancing knowledge about the LGBT population, but the bureau’s new leadership seems to want to bury its head in the sand,” he added.

In other surveys, including some conducted by the federal government, youths as young as 13 provide data on their sexual orientation and gender identity, said Kerith J. Conron, Blachford-Cooper research director and distinguished scholar at the Williams Institute.

“We know that LGBT youth are more likely to be victimized, sometimes by their own families, and we need data from the NCVS to learn whether crimes are reported and how the criminal justice system is responding to young LGBT victims,” said Conron. “Instead of dropping these items from the NCVS, which were cognitively tested and performed well, the Department of Justice should focus on making it easier for youth to answer questions by investigating strategies to improve the data collection process.”

This follows a pattern of actions by the Trump administration to not only undermine LGBT rights but erase LGBT people. The Census Bureau, for instance, scrapped plans to ask questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in its largest survey, the American Community Survey, in 2020. Such questions may be included in a smaller survey, the Census Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators Survey.

The proposed Justice Department rule was published in the Federal Register Wednesday and is subject to a 30-day public comment period, after which the DOJ can adopt it in its original form or with changes, or decide to reject it. Go here to read the rule or leave a comment.

Tags: Crime, LGBT youth

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